It’s one of the most major events you can experience in your lifetime, and one that will most likely have a big impact on your finances.
Not sure how you should financially prepare for your baby? To help you get yourself in the best possible financial situation before your newest family member arrives, we’ve put together a few ideas and resources.
Review your current budget
It’s probably no shock to you that having a child can be expensive – but creating a budget as early as possible will help you prepare for the expenses and might mean there’s one less thing to stress about when you have a crying baby in the house.
Before you factor in the expenses of having a baby, you’ll need work out your current household income, your expenses, your debt and how much you are putting into savings. There are lots of apps and websites that can help you create a budget and track your spending (please see below).
Remember to be honest with yourself when you create your budget! Get out your bank statements, and utility bills and include everything. It’s better to overestimate your spending and be left with extra, than exclude expenses and get a nasty surprise later.
Try working out your regular income and expenses over a year – this way you can include the extra expenses you usually encounter around Christmas time, or when you take holidays.
- How to do a budget – an article by ASIC’s MoneySmart
- TrackMySpend - a free app from ASIC’s MoneySmart that can help you see where your money is going
- How to budget – an article from Money Magazine
Budgeting for a baby and pregnancy
Once you’ve mapped out how much money you have to work with, it’s time to think about the upfront costs of a baby, reducing your debt, and other big expenses you could face (will you need a new car in the near future?).
When it comes to working out how much a baby can cost, you’ll need to factor in doctor and hospital bills, scans and medical tests, maternity clothes, childcare, baby clothes and equipment. Working out the estimated costs of these expenses can be hard, so do your research and ask friends and family who already have children.
If you’re looking for some ways to save money (and waste), consider cloth nappies as opposed to disposable nappies – as a newborn can go through around ten nappies a day! And if you have friends that have already had children, how about giving their outgrown clothes and equipment a second home?
- Check out the range of ‘buying guides’ and reviews by consumer advocacy group, Choice, such as Choosing your baby’s wardrobe and the disposable and cloth nappy buying guide
- Buying for a baby on a budgetBuying for a baby on a budget – an article from online community, Baby Centre
When or if you decide to return to work, review your budget again and factor in costs such as childcare, and your work expenses to make sure it will benefit you financially.
Try to check your spending regularly, identifying any expenses you can live without, and if you are in a position to do so, consider opening a savings account and regularly transferring money into a baby fund. That way you will have a bit of emergency money should unexpected costs come up.
Taking time off and government help
Think about the costs associated with taking time off work, or how you’ll manage your household on one income instead of two.
All employees in Australia are eligible for parental leave. You can take up to 12 months unpaid parental leave, and you must notify your boss at least ten weeks prior to taking the leave.
Depending on your income and assets, you may be eligible for Parental Leave Pay, the Family Tax Benefit, Child Care Benefit, Parenting Payment or Rent Assistance.
- Find more information about parental and maternity leave on the Fair Work website.
- For more information on the benefits you may be eligible for, visit the Department of Human Services website.
Taking time off work to care for your baby can mean you miss out on important super contributions, and this is one of the major causes of the super gap between men and women at retirement age.
When you’re financially able to, consider making additional contributions to your super. It’s relatively easy to do, generally earns more interest than a savings account, and every bit counts! Read this article to see how one Australian woman paid herself with “nappy money”.
In addition, your spouse can make contributions to your super and they might be eligible for the Spouse Contribution Rebate from the government - more information on this is available here.
- Read more about boosting your super on our Super Women page.
Having a baby is a major life event that could change your insurance needs.
If you currently have death cover, total and permanent disability cover, or income protection insurance through Vision Super, (which you probably do), try our Insurance calculator to help you see if you need to update your cover.
In the case of health insurance, if you need to raise your level of cover, do it as early as possible to account for the potential waiting periods. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, you could need health cover “that includes pregnancy at least three months before you start trying to fall pregnant”.
So there you go - plenty to think about, and that’s just the beginning of your exciting journey. You may consider seeking financial advice to help plan for you and your family’s future down the track, and you can find more information on Vision Super’s financial planning services at www.visionsuper.com.au/advice.